Regardless of your career, long-term success demands long hours. A Gallup poll found almost 40% of adults work at least 50 hours a week. In fact, it is common for many to work 60 hours a week. If you find yourself working long hours for an extended period of time, you may be risking your health and wellbeing. Recent studies discovered those working long hours 50 or more days a year over a decade increased their risk of stroke by almost 50%. Working long hours often equates to increased stress levels, anxiety, depression and poor-quality sleep; all of which can contribute to a stroke.
While an obvious solution might be to work less or find a different job, neither of these may be realistic options. According to Dr. Philip Stieg, a neurosurgeon at Weill Cornell Brain Center, taking responsibility for preventative practices and making choices to counter balance stress can help you improve and maintain your health. Here are some tips you can follow to succeed at work without sacrificing your health.
Stopping to take a break might seem counterintuitive if you are working long hours, but it has significant benefits. Breaks, even short ones, help keep stress at bay. Try taking a walk, having a snack or meditating. Meditating for as little as one minute has proven highly effective at reducing stress levels. Both Jeff Weiner and Bill Gates use meditation to find calm. A short break provides the benefit of allowing you to refresh and refocus. Renewed focus will help you maintain your productivity and enable you complete tasks more quickly.
Consuming a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and water will keep your body performing it’s best and allow you to cope more successfully with daily challenges. Your brain and body need water for optimal performance. Keep healthy snacks on hand so you can easily fuel your body with nutritious foods. A diet filled with sugary, high sodium foods will ultimately make you feel sluggish and increase your risk for health issues.
Regular exercise improves your health, happiness, and productivity while reducing stress that can lead to future health problems. Exercise is so critical to the health of your body and brain, many highly successful people schedule exercise into their weeks. Establish an exercise routine that allows you to work out regularly.
Get Quality Sleep
During sleep, your body recovers from the stressors of daily life and work. A good night’s sleep enables you to better tackle daily challenges. According to Dr. Rebecca Robbins, a research fellow at New York University’s Langone Health, employees who get fewer than 7–8 hours of sleep a night are at higher risk for anxiety and depression, both of which can trigger further health problems. Check out some of these suggestions from the Mayo Clinic if you would like to improve your sleep quality.
Know Your Numbers
Finally, visit your healthcare provider yearly to monitor blood pressure, cholesterol and other stress related markers. There is no substitute for empowering yourself with knowledge!
When you’re in the midst of pursuing career goals it’s easy to forget the importance of taking care of yourself. However, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Take time to make your health a priority. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much better you feel!
Originally published on Medium.